Shares in SoftBank Group Corp. tumbled Monday after Chinese regulators ordered app stores to remove Didi Chuxing, run by the recently U.S.-listed ride-hailing giant in which the Japanese firm is the top shareholder.
The government also widened its probe of U.S.-listed tech firms to include Full Truck Alliance Co., another SoftBank investment. SoftBank fell 5.4% in Tokyo, the most among stocks on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average and the biggest decline since it reported earnings in May.
The investigations have dealt another blow to the shares of Masayoshi Son’s tech and investing conglomerate, which have lost nearly a third of their value since hitting a record in March. Despite posting the largest-ever quarterly profit for a Japanese company less than two months ago, investors have been disappointed by a lack of any new share buyback announcements.
“It’s inevitable to see selling from investors who had been pinning their hopes on Didi,” said Tomoichiro Kubota, a senior market analyst at Matsui Securities Co. in Tokyo. “If it’s deleted from app stores, it’ll be a very difficult situation”.
China’s cyberspace regulator announced the Didi ban on Sunday, just two days after revealing a review of the company. The decision effectively requires the largest app stores in China to strike Didi from their offerings, though the current half-billion existing users can continue to order up rides and other services. Didi said the regulatory move may have “an adverse impact” on its revenue in China.
On Monday, regulators expanded the probes further to target Full Truck Alliance, which runs an Uber-like platform for truck-hailing, as well as Kanzhun Ltd. Full Truck Alliance, backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd. as well as SoftBank, raised $1.6 billion in its U.S. offering last month.
SoftBank’s Vision Fund is Didi’s top shareholder, with a stake of more than 20%, making it the largest single investment in its expansive portfolio of tech companies. Uber Technologies Inc., in which SoftBank is also the largest shareholder, is the second-biggest Didi holder. The Information reported that SoftBank has invested about $12 billion in Didi.
Didi Global Inc. fell as much as 11% in U.S. trading on Friday, just days after it pulled off one of the biggest U.S. initial public offerings of the past decade.